Psyc 443: Thinking and Problem Solving, Spring 2006

Instructor: Dr. Kent L. Norman
Office hours: Tues 11-12, Wed 10-11

BPS 3123F,
phone: (301) 405-5924
email: kent_norman@lap.umd.edu

1. Course Description

This course will focus on a number of topics in human thinking and problem solving. First we will review the historical development of research on problem solving in psychology. This will include a discussion of the philosophical and psychological representations of problem solving in humans as well as a survey of the research literature. Second, we will look at the formal theory of problem solving and discuss the current status of artificial intelligence in computer science and its application to human thinking and problem solving. Finally and most importantly, we will look at our own thinking and problem solving abilities and explore ways of improving both through the use of memory mnemonics, problem solving strategies, and computers.

This semester we have the opportunity to meet in the Plant Sciences Electronic Teaching Theater. This facility is a prototype of the multimedia classroom of the future. The classroom has 36 workstations for the students, high resolution large screen video displays for video, computer monitor switching, and computer networking for collaborative work.

We will be exploring the use of the classroom and the World Wide Web during the semester in conjunction with the standard topics that we cover in the course. Students will be expected to take an active part in the learning process, to help design the learning environment, and to work together on collaborative projects. No prior experience with computers is required. However, students should have an interest and an enthusiasm in new technology and should not be afraid to break out of the mold and try new things.

2. Course Requirements:

A. Two exams and a final exam will be given. The two exams will each contribute 20% and the final exam 25% to the course grade. All exams will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions and will be on-line in the Exam Module in HyperCourseware.

B. Students should attend as many lectures as possible. If you plan to be absent, you must submit a reason using the Scheduling Module in HyperCourseware. You will be allowed to miss four classes if you submit a reason. Beyond that, you must obtain notes if absent for medical reasons. Attendence is automatically recorded by HyperCourseware when you login. Therefore, be sure that you login to your account during each class period. Finally, participation in class discussion is important and will be monitored.

C. Reading assignments are listed in the course outline and in the Reading Module. Assignments should be read before class on the first day assigned.

D. Projects and assignments will contribute the last 35% of the grade. These will consist of short written assignments and exercises to be submitted in HyperCourseware in the Assignments Module There will also be as a course team project (17.5%). Finally, students must participate in several on-line discussions in the Discussions Module.

3. Textbook:

Mayer, R. E. (1992). Thinking, problem solving, cognition (2nd ed). New York: W. H. Freeman.

4. Syllabus (dates to be changed)

Syllabus

Psyc 443: Thinking and Problem Solving

DateTopicReadingsAssignments
1/25/2006
Introduction to the Teaching Theater
Manuals

1/27/2006
Overview of Issues
Chapter_1
class roll
1/30/2006
continued

problem solving survey
2/1/2006
Historical Trends: Associationism
Chapter_2

2/3/2006
continued

personal problem solving 1
2/6/2006
continued

Discussion 1
2/8/2006
Historical Trends: Gestalt Psychology
Chapter_3
problem description
2/10/2006
continued


2/13/2006
continued


2/15/2006
Inductive Reasoning: Hypothesis Testing
Chapter_4
Discussion 2
2/17/2006
continued

problem analysis
2/20/2006
continued


2/22/2006
Deductive Reasoning: "Psycho-logic"
Chapter_5
team project input
2/24/2006
continued


2/27/2006
continued


3/1/2006
*** First Exam ***


3/3/2006
Computer Simulation of Problem Solving
Chapter_6
Discussion 3
3/6/2006
continued

analysis of exam
3/8/2006
Mental Chrononmetry: Cognitive Processing


3/10/2006
continued
Chapter_7

3/13/2006
continued


3/15/2006
Schema Theory: Search for Meaning
Chapter_8
schemas
3/17/2006
continued


3/20/2006
Spring Break


3/27/2006
Question Answering: Accessing Knowledge
Chapter_9
Discussion 4
3/29/2006
continued


3/30/2006
continued


4/3/2006
Cognitive Development of Thinking
Chapter_10

4/5/2006
continued


4/7/2006
continued


4/10/2006
*** Second Exam ***


4/12/2006
Intelligence: What is it and how much?
Chapter_11
IQ tests
4/14/2006
continued

Discussion 5
4/17/2006
Creativity Training
Chapter_12
cognitron
4/19/2006
HTML and Web Pages


4/21/2006
continued


4/24/2006
Expert Problem Solving
Chapter_13
interview
4/26/2006
continued


4/28/2006
Analogical Reasoning: Metaphors
Chapter_14
Discussion 6
5/1/2006
continued


5/3/2006
Mathematical Problem Solving
Chapter_15
personal problem solving 2
5/5/2006
continued


5/8/2006
Projects:


5/10/2006
Projects:


5/16/2006
*** Final Exam *** (8:00 - 10:00 am)